IFC Films

Sundance Selects Takes North American Rights to Bess Kargman’s Dance Doc First Position

New York, NY- October 6, 2011 – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to director Bess Kargman’s documentary FIRST POSITION. The film, which was also produced by Kargman, features some of the world’s most talented aspiring ballet dancers. FIRST POSITION made its world premiere last month at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and won the audience choice first runner up award for best documentary. The movie will be screening at several festivals this fall including the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival and DOC NYC.

FIRST POSITION is a documentary that follows six young dancers as they compete for elite scholarships and job contracts at one of the most prestigious student ballet competitions in the world: the Youth America Grand Prix. Dancers from around the globe travel to New York each year for this hard-earned chance to compete in the finals. Eleven-year-old Aran lives in Naples, Italy, with his United States– military family and travels two hours every morning to practice with his French ballet teacher in Rome. Adopted from an orphanage in Sierra Leone when she was very young, fourteen-year-old Michaela dreams of going to the American Ballet Theatre’s JKO School. Seventeen-year-old Rebecca is finishing high school, looks like the quintessential classical ballet dancer and hopes to find a paid position with a corps de ballet, even though opportunities are slim. In a ballet-driven family, ten-year-old Jules and twelve-year-old Miko train together daily, but differ in their passion and commitment to the art form. Born in Colombia but separated from his family because of training, sixteen-year-old Joan Sebastian works tirelessly in the hopes of landing a scholarship with The Royal Ballet School in London. Director Kargman interviews the competitors, their families, their ballet teachers and choreographers, and we learn of the many sacrifices — physical, emotional and financial — all for the sake of ballet. The kids’ love for dance helps them struggle through bloodied feet, near exhaustion and debilitating injuries, all while navigating the drama and changes that come with adolescence.

Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects, said: "This is a touching and inspirational documentary with great suspense that will keep audience riveted. Bess Kargman has made a beautiful film that captures the grace of these phenomenal performers. We think it’s really going to connect with audiences nationwide and look forward to working with her and our good friends at Submarine."

Added Kargman: “After the remarkable response in Toronto, I am excited to team up with Sundance Selects in releasing FIRST POSITION, and thrilled that my film will have the opportunity to contribute to their amazing run of success in documentary releases.”

The deal for FIRST POSITION was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Productions, and Betsy Rodgers, Vice President of Business and Legal Afffairs, for Sundance Selects with Josh Braun at Submarine on behalf of the filmmaker with counsel from Marc H. Simon at Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP. The film also closed a six-figure deal with Hopscotch for distribution in Australia and New Zealand.

Sundance Selects is a sister division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.

Established in 2009 and based in New York City, Sundance Selects is a leading U.S. distributor of prestige films focusing on American independents, documentaries and world cinema.  Its unique distribution model makes independent prestige films available to a national audience by releasing them in theaters as well as on cable’s Video On Demand (VOD) platform, reaching nearly 50 million homes. Some of the company’s successes include Abbas Kiarostami’s CERTIFIED COPY starring Juliette Binoche, Sundance audience award-winner BUCK, Academy Award® winner Errol Morris’ documentary TABLOID, and Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, which at $5.2 million and counting has become the company’s biggest grossing success since MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. Current and upcoming Sundance Selects releases include Sundance award-winning THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE: 1967-1974, SXSW award-winner WEEKEND, director Wim Wenders’ 3D PINA which is Germany’s Official entry to the 2012 Academy Awards, Werner Herzog’s acclaimed documentary INTO THE ABYSS, Cannes Grand Prix winner THE KID WITH A BIKE directed by the Dardennes brothers, and Maiwenn’s Cannes Prix du Jury winner POLISS. Sundance Selects is a sister division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.

Press Contacts

  • Katelyn Bogacki
    Strategy PR/Consulting